Transcription Notes for the 1850 Letcher County, KY, Census
Transcription Notes
for the
1850 Letcher County, KY, Census

Transcription by: Brian K. Caudill (Copyright ©1999)

Proofreading by: Joy Williams and Brian K. Caudill

Original Document Source: The original document source used for this transcription was Broderbund's 3 CD-ROM set entitled "Census Microfilm Records: Kentucky, 1850 (#303)". The images contained on these CD's were acquired from the microfilmed census records located at the Nation Archives. In particular, for Letcher County, KY, the source is Microcopy No. 432, Roll 209 (ie. M432-209). The Letcher County, KY, census schedules begin with image number 11,237 on CD#2.

Enumeration: Enumeration of the 1850 Letcher County, KY, Census was divided up into two sections known as District 1 and District 2. District 1 was enumerated by 24 year-old John M. Burns between August 20th and August 30th, 1850, and consisted of 176 dwellings or households (1080 individuals). District 2 was enumerated by 32 year-old Preston H. Collier between August 23rd and September 16th, 1850, and consisted of 240 households (1370 individuals). Both Mr. Burns and Mr. Collier were living in District 2 and can be found listed in households #235 and #240, respectively.

On page 141a, Mr. Collier ended his enumerated District 2 with the following note: "I P. H. Collier Do here by certify & make oath that that the foregoing scheduls are filled acording to my oath & Instructions to the best of my knowledge & belief. Sworn to be fore me Thos Cassaday J.P.F.C. this 9th Oct 1850. 32 pages & 27 lines." On page 155b, Mr. Burns ended his enumerated district 1 with the following note: "I John M. Burns do hereby certify that these returns were made and these blanks filled acording to my oath and instructions to the best of my knowledge & belief this 19th of Sept 1850. John M. Burns. Sworn to before me this day and date first above ???????. T, Cassaday J. P."

On the schedules, for District 2, Mr. Collier used a dash '-' to mark Column 10 (ie. "Married within the year") and a one in parentheses '(1)' to mark Columns 11 (ie. "Attended School within the year") and column 12 (ie. "Persons over 21 yrs of age who cannot read & write"). For District 1, Mr. Burns used a one in parentheses '(1)' for Columns 10, 11, and 12.

An interesting entry made by Mr. Collier on line 42 of page 129a indicates that the 1850 Census Schedules microfilmed for Letcher County (at least for District 2) were actually handwritten copies of the original schedules. The entry was as follows: "in the 65 Family I had numbered a Dead Child in the original which I Leave out in the coppies".

Page Numbering: The page numbers listed in this transcription refer to the "stamped" page numbers located in the upper right-hand corner of the census schedule. However, since only every other page was stamped with a page number, the letters 'a' and 'b' have been added to distinguish between the "numbered" pages (by adding the letter 'a') and the "unnumbered" pages (by adding the letter 'b'). There were also hand written numbers at the top of each page. These "handwritten" page numbers can be calculated by subtracting 125 from the "stamped" page number, multiplying the result by 2, and then adding either 249 for the 'a' pages or 250 for the 'b' pages. For example, stamped page number 140a would be handwritten page number 279 (ie. 140-125=15, 15x2=30, 30+249=279). Stamped page number 140b would be handwritten page number 280 (ie. 30+250=280).

For some reason District 2 was listed first beginning with page number 125a and ending with page 141a. District 1 was listed, next, beginning with page number 143a and ending with page 155b. There were no page numbers 141b, 142a, or 142b. As it turns out, the dwelling and family numbers for each household were identical throughout both districts 1 and 2. Going in order by dwelling numbers, the last few pages of district 1 were out of order. Dwelling #133, at the bottom of page 152b, was continued at the top of page 154b; dwelling #140, at the bottom of page 154b was continued on the top of page 154a; dwelling #149, at the bottom of page 154a was continued at the top of page 153a; and dwelling #162, on the bottom of page 153b, was continued at the top of page 155a.

General Transcription Notes: For some reason the first page for both District 1 (page 143a) and District 2 (page 125a) were very dark at the top and bottom of the pages. This made it difficult or nearly impossible to read the enumeration information at the top of these pages and the last few names at the bottom of these pages. These two pages were the most difficult to transcribe due to poor microfilm quality. All of the other pages were of fairly good microfilm quality.

As expected, the handwriting of the enumerators presented challenges of their own. Actually, Mr. Collier's handwriting for District 2 was fairly easy to read once familiarized with it. Most of his letters were distinct and fairly consistent. On the other hand, Mr. Burns' handwriting for District 1 was much more challenging to transcribe. His letters seemed to all run together, especially the letters e, i, m, n, r, u, and w. For an example, the surname "Sumner" was a strange 'S' followed by a long line of humps. Also, because of the way Mr. Burns wrote his Y's, many times it was very difficult to tell if a name ending in 'y' actually ended with just a 'y' or an 'ey'. For an example, the surname "Amburgey" appears to end with just a 'y' in some places and an 'ey' in other places. Certain numbers were also hard to distinguish. Many times 1's looked like 7's and vice versa.

Every attempt has been made to transcribe the 1850 Letcher County, KY, Census Schedules "exactly" as they appear in the source document, including some obvious errors and misspellings. Known errors are noted within the transcription; however, many other errors were most likely overlooked and some were no doubt introduced during the transcription process. Therefore, this transcription should only be used as a guideline in your research and not taken as 'gospel'. It is highly recommended that you refer the actual census records for your own interpretation. All names have been indexed as they appear on the census schedules. So, if you can not find a particular individual, try looking under a different spelling variation.

Brian K. Caudill
Malabar, FL